BioDenton, TX's prolific, eclectic Centro-Matic began in 1995 as a side project for singer/songwriter and guitarist Will Johnson. Though Centro-Matic released a few singles that year, it wasn't until 1997 that the project began to resemble a full-fledged group. After recording the 23-song debut album Redo the Stacks at his friend Matt Pence's home studio, Johnson enlisted Pence as the band's drummer, along with cellist/violinist Scott Danbom and bassist Mark Hedman. The fully formed Centro-Matic recorded over 60 songs in a Milstadt, IL, studio space owned by Son Volt's Jay Farrar; of those, some of the quieter, more emotional songs ended up on the 1999 Idol Records album Navigational, while some louder, lo-fi tracks were collected with B-sides and other unreleased material on the same year's Quality Park release The Static vs. the Strings, Vol. 1.
With still more songs in reserve, Centro-Matic obtained no-strings-attached deals with both labels, allowing them to release as many albums as they wanted beginning with 2000's All the Falsest Hearts Can Try. For his next trick, Johnson built a side project inside his existing side project, the dour South San Gabriel Songs/Music. But before anyone could dwell on that, Centro-Matic dropped Distance and Clime through Idol in 2001. Love You Just the Same followed two years later; by now, tracking Johnson's restless songwriting heart was as fascinating as hearing his consistently strong output.
More amazingly, Centro-Matic toured like crazy men this entire time, crisscrossing the country (and Europe) with acts as disparate as Jay Bennett, Brendan Benson, Slobberbone, and the Promise Ring. Sweet remainders of the Love You Just the Same sessions surfaced in 2004 as the Flashes and Cables EP; the full-length Truth Flies Out was scheduled for later that spring. Centro-Matic was busy in 2006; not only did the band release the Triggers and Trash Heaps EP and full-length Fort Recovery, that year also marked Centro-Matic's tenth anniversary. [AMG Heather Phares]